TCAF 2019

The Toronto Comic Arts Festival was a blast! It’s one of the biggest and nicest comic festivals I have ever attended, and just like in 2015 (when I was there last) it was wonderful to be there. Even more so, because this time I was Featured Guest and had a premiering book: Love: a Discovery in Comics.

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That’s me, loving my new book – and publishers Jeff Whitman and Terry Nantier in the background.

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The NBM stand with publishers Jeff Whitman and Terry Nantier (left) and comic artists Larry Hancock and Michael Cherkas, who were there to promote The Silent Invasion

Another great thing this year was that I was one of five Dutch comic artists attending. Our national comics child prodigy Aimée de Jongh was there (okay, she’s not a kid anymore) promoting both Blossoms in Autumn and her new Taxi: Stories from the Back Seat.

This is her, signing just around the corner from where we were sitting:

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Another colleague from home was Chad Bilyeu, who is originally from Cleveland, but has been in Holland for ages and is the author of the wonderfully revealing series Chad in Amsterdam.

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Yiri and Chad

Last but not least there was Typex, our comics rock star, whose masterpiece Andy (about Andy Warhol) is taking the comics world by storm.

typex

The coolest thing was that I got to do a panel with him, about Dutch Comics, moderated by Mark Nevins:

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Not only that – I also got to be on a panel about Science and Comics, with Maki Naro, Mike Holmes, Alison Wilgus and moderator Johanna Draper Carlson:

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While Saturday went by in a frenzy of signing, panelling and generally being elated by everything, Sunday allowed for some time to chase for comics myself.

This is our loot:

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The NBM table did very well, by the way! Here’s the Before picture of my end:

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And this is the After…:

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If you missed my cute little promotional booklet Ten Tips For A Broken Heart and are in the Toronto area – I dropped off a whole bunch at comic store The Beguiling.

Thanks to everyone who made TCAF 2019 such a memorable experience! We definitely hope to be back one day.

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Ten Tips for a Broken Heart

This weekend, my book Love: a Discovery in Comics will be launched at the TCAF Festival in Toronto! I’ll be there, at the NBM stand, together with colleagues Larry Hancock and Michael Cherkas of The Silent Invasion – and they gave me the idea of bringing some freebies to give away:

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First of all: bookmarks! Because everybody needs bookmarks, right?

But the special attraction is this mini-booklet containing three pages from the book: Ten Tips for a Broken Heart! Because everybody’s heart gets broken some time…

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If you’re at TCAF, come and get yours! And get the book too, it’s full of tips, facts and stories about Love, in all its facets.

me

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Love & “The One”

In my upcoming book Love: a Discovery in Comics I dedicate one chapter to exploring the concept of “The One”. Is there truth to the notion that there is one perfect mate for each of us out there? An if so, how do we find them?

yue-lao

Hopeless romantic as I am, I love to believe in The One. But with 7 billion people out there, I’m not sure there’s only one. Maybe there’s ideal matches for each phase of life that we’re in…

three-loves

Want to read more? Love: a Discovery in Comics is out in June!

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Love & Sex

In my upcoming book Love: a Discovery in Comics I don’t skirt the subject of sex. I start the chapter with a visit to my younger self, trying to dispense some sage advice…

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Will I listen to my own advice…? Read and find out!

Apart from sharing my own thoughts on the subject, there are also a few divinities chipping in:

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I give an analysis of the Kama Sutra, the ancient Hindu text on sex and marriage. The old master Vatsyayana instructs his students with practical knowledge such as this:

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Excerpt from the Kama Sutra

I (or rather: Hindu god Kama) also dwell a bit on the subject of tantric sex:

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Did you know that even the Bible contains a text on sex?

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Song of Songs – an erotic love poem

When it comes to the role of sex in a long-term relationship, I have personally always liked this Dr. Phil quote:

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Want to read more? Love: a Discovery in Comics will be in stores in June!

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Visualizing Love

In my upcoming book Love: a Discovery in Comics I go on a quest for a new True Love (because the Seven-Year Itch hit me). When it comes to Love, everyone and anyone has well-meant advice, and most of it is rubbish. The one thing that ever really worked for me, and I am not hesitant to recommend to others, is to VISUALIZE what you want.

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Make a list of every little thing you’d like to see in your partner – how they behave towards you and others, what their preferences are in movies, food and holidays, what they look like, how they dress; every silly little detail that pleases you, whether it’s politically correct or not. The trick is, of course, that once you make yourself aware of what you really want, it’s much easier to recognize it when you stumble across it.

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Drawing myself going on speed dates with my list was hilarious

 

But the most important thing about such a list is not to hang on to it too tightly. After you made it, put it away and forget about it. Around the time I met Yiri, I thought my true love should look like a tall Viking. If I had stuck to that, I would never have discovered that Yiri has a really cool wizard-Viking inside him.

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Did I find new love and was it a better one than I already had…?

Find out soon!

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What is Love?

Did you know the Ancient Greek had at least seven words to describe the concept of Love? There’s agape (deep devoted love), eros (lust), philia (friendship), storge (family love), ludus (playful love), pragma (rational love) and philautia (self love).

Ludus literally means “game”, so I decided to draw a game board in my upcoming book Love: a Discovery in Comics. It’s not accidental that practitioners of this kind of love are often called “players”.

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On the other end of the spectrum there’s pragma, the very rational, pragmatic approach to relationships. A famous example of someone who used this approach is Charles Darwin:

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I drew part of Darwin’s list before, in Science: a Discovery in Comics:

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Love: a Discovery in Comics is out in bookstores in June!

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Love is coming!

My newest book, on Love this time, will hit bookstores in June! It will be first available at the TCAF comic con in Toronto on May 11 & 12, which Yiri and I will be attending (find us at the NBM booth for a chat!).

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The first review, from Publisher’s Weekly is already in, and I’m really happy that they call it upbeat, good-natured and affable:

The latest in de Heer’s series of simple, cheery graphic novel guides to big topics like science, philosophy, and religion finds the Dutch cartoonist tackling the meaning of love. Taking her own romantic history and current relationship with her husband (and colorist) Yiri Kohl as the opening story, she expands into such subjects as the history of marriage, the chemical components of desire, the seven kinds of love identified by the ancient Greeks, and the Kama Sutra and Song of Songs. Her gesticulating cartoon avatar shares her expertise on romance novels and attends a speed dating event. It’s an upbeat and good-natured sampling of issues related to partnership, lust, and romance, but the topic of love is far too vast to be covered satisfyingly in a 120-page comic. The broadly smiling, roly-poly cartoon characters and bright colors make the arguments accessible to a fault. Ultimately, the cartoon version of de Heer reaffirms her relationship with Kohl, but she doesn’t come to any conclusions that could be considered truly universal. While affable, this is an unchallenging ramble through a topic that could easily provide fodder for an entire separate series of graphic investigations.

It is true that I found it hard to come up with truly universal truths about love. In my own experience, the subject is so complex, that when you want to condense it you either have to describe purely scientific facts or stick to personal experience, in order to avoid reverting to platitudes. In this book (as in all my books), I’ve done both: the broad view with facts such as the history of marriage, contents of the Kama Sutra and chemicals in the brain, AND my own personal story of being in a long-term relationship with Yiri.

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Will our marriage withstand the onslaught that is the Seven Year Itch…? Read all about it in ‘Love – a Discovery in Comics!’

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Oh, and I also threw in a few frivolities, such as this:

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Of all of my books, this is the one I had most fun with drawing. I hope lots of readers will LOVE it!